News / Europe

Turkey Crisis Undermines Erdogan's EU Meeting

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
Dorian Jones
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit this week to Brussels is being touted as an important step in putting the country's membership bid back on track. But the visit is being overshadowed by a growing political crisis in Turkey. A month-old corruption investigation led by a group of Turkish prosecutors has targeted dozens of Erdogan's allies. The prime minister says the wide-ranging probe - in which dozens of his allies were arrested and more than 20 charged with money laundering, bribery and zoning law infractions-is a foreign-backed "judicial coup."

Erdogan's first visit to European Union's capital in five years was to have signaled fresh momentum in ties after the EU in November agreed to reopen membership negotiations following a three-year freeze.

But, diplomatic columnist Kadri Gursel of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and Al Monitor website warned Erdogan could face a difficult visit following what many call a purge of the police and judiciary. 

"He is going there as a prime minister whose legitimacy is impaired. He is under heavy scrutiny. He is under heavy criticism, because this recent intervention to the justice. There is a strong raising of concerns because of the fact Turkey is losing its character of state of law," said Gursel.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet with leading members of the EU Commission and European Parliament. The EU Commission has voiced concern that the Turkish government's proposed legal reforms threaten the separation of powers, a key membership requirement. But Erdogan dismissed such concerns.

"It's nobody's job to make a statement about Turkey's move over judicial reform," he said. "I'm sorry but I won't buy statements like 'these...we know how to read and write," he said.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum said how Erdogan reacted to the expected criticism could determine the country's future relations with the EU.

"Last year’s warming up may end abruptly this Tuesday. The ball is in the prime minister’s field. He will decide whether to back down or whether he will push for it, which would mean a major crisis with the EU because it would mean Turkey is definitely regressing not progressing any more," said Aktar.

With the Turkish public's support for its EU bid at record lows, a showdown with Brussels, observers claim, could play well with his grassroots base. This is an important consideration with key local elections due to be held in March followed by presidential polls later in the summer and national elections the following year. 

But diplomatic columnist Gursel warned that the prime minister could pay a high price for any showdown with Brussels.

"If this prime minister resorts to EU bashing as a last option, to please his constituency, this will absolutely destroy what it is left of Turkey’s image and legitimacy. And will [take] its own toll on the economy itself. Turkey needs to be predictable," he said.

The current political instability has already hit the financial markets hard with the Turkish currency hitting record lows. Observers warn a diplomatic crisis with the EU will do little inspire faith of international investors.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs